Fletcher backs Hernandez to shine

Once again Ferguson has had a relatively quiet summer. Citing a

lack of value, the Manchester United boss has restricted himself to

just a couple of purchases, both of which were concluded before

last season finished. Defender Chris Smalling agreed to move north

from Fulham during the last transfer window, while Hernandez was a

total unknown when Ferguson paid a relatively modest £7million

for his services at the beginning of May. Yet Hernandez in

particular is looking like a bargain. The Mexico forward turned in

some eye-catching performances at the World Cup to raise his

profile and on his return has scored three times in as many games –

once against his new club as he turned out for old side Chivas –

form which has persuaded Ferguson to release the highly-rated Danny

Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf on loan. So, while United’s critics

continue to insist the lack of spending is due to restrictions

imposed by the club’s huge debt, something Ferguson has strenuously

denied, Fletcher feels the manager is doing exactly the right

thing. “The manager knows what is best for Manchester United,” said

the Scotland skipper. “He knows what this club is capable of and

what the players can do. “Younger players are a year older. The

ones we brought in last season have the experience of being around

for a season. “Hopefully that, coupled with the disappointments of

last year, will push us forward to greater success this season.”

For Hernandez, the future looks very bright. What needs to be

avoided is the Diego Forlan syndrome. Forlan’s performances since

leaving United, culminating in him picking up the Golden Ball as

the outstanding player at the World Cup this summer, have shown the

Uruguayan to be a striker of outstanding talent. But, signed for

roughly the same fee as Hernandez, Forlan became the subject of

ridicule when he took eight months and 27 games to score his first

goal, wrecking any chance he had of establishing himself as a

regular member of Ferguson’s starting line-up. So, a goal for

Hernandez in tomorrow’s Community Shield tussle with double winners

Chelsea at Wembley would be perfect for the Mexican to relieve the

possibility of external pressure. “Javier is a lovely lad,”

reflected Fletcher. “He has come in and settled really well. He

speaks great English and gives us another option up front. “But

strikers thrive on goals. You see the confidence they get from

them. Javier will be no different. “Hopefully he can get off to a

flying start and won’t look back.” After surrendering the title to

Carlo Ancelotti’s men last term, an early piece of silverware would

be welcomed at Old Trafford. Ferguson accepts the most important

aspect is to build some match fitness into his squad. Half a dozen

players – including Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic – only have one

game under their belts and, with international fixtures filling

next week, the United boss needs to gauge which players are at the

right level for the Premier League opener against Newcastle on

August 16. “Pre-season is all about minutes on the clock,” said

Fletcher. “You want to win games and get your goals and ideally we

can get some silverware on the board straightaway because the

Community Shield is a big test for us. “But the most important

thing is getting the match sharpness back and making sure we are

all ready for what is to follow.” Michael Carrick could feature in

tomorrow’s Community Shield after all. Yesterday, Sir Alex Ferguson

claimed the Manchester United midfielder would definitely miss the

Wembley showpiece after picking up an ankle injury in Dublin on

Wednesday and was ruled out for a couple of weeks. But Carrick was

fit enough to complete an open training session at Old Trafford

this morning and there appeared no obvious reason why he should not

play some part against Chelsea. Ferguson also stated Wayne Rooney,

Michael Owen and Nemanja Vidic would get at least 45 minutes

against the double winners and all three were present this morning.

Strangely for a public session held in aid of the Manchester United

Foundation Ferguson himself was not present, as he will be watching

Werder Bremen, including reported transfer target Mesut Ozil, play

Fulham in a friendly at Craven Cottage this afternoon. It was left

to assistant Mike Phelan to stress how much the Red Devils are

looking forward to the new season.